The current pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is having negative health, social and economic consequences worldwide. In Europe, the pandemic started to develop strongly at the end of February and beginning of March 2020. Subsequently, it spread over the continent, with special virulence in northern Italy and inland Spain. In this study we show that an unusual persistent anticyclonic situation prevailing in southwestern Europe during February 2020 (i.e. anomalously strong positive phase of the North Atlantic and Arctic Oscillations) could have resulted in favorable conditions, e.g., in terms of air temperature and humidity among other factors, in Italy and Spain for a quicker spread of the virus compared with the rest of the European countries. It seems plausible that the strong atmospheric stability and associated dry conditions that dominated in these regions may have favored the virus propagation, both outdoors and especially indoors, by short-range droplet and aerosol (airborne) transmission, or/and by changing social contact patterns. Later recent atmospheric circulation conditions in Europe (July 2020) and the U.S. (October 2020) seem to support our hypothesis, although further research is needed in order to evaluate other confounding variables. Interestingly, the atmospheric conditions during the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918 seem to have resembled at some stage with the current COVID-19 pandemic.
The absence of information on genetic variation and population structure of brook lampreys Lethenteron spp. in the eastern part of their distribution limits our understanding of the migration ecology and spatial population genetic structure of the species. We examined genetic variation within and among three aggregations of Lethenteron spp. larvae in the Yukon River drainage, Alaska, using microsatellite genotypes. A total of 120 larval lampreys were genotyped at eight microsatellite loci. Global FST was 0.053 (95% CI 0.021-0.086), while pairwise FST values ranged from 0.048-0.057). Model-based Bayesian clustering analyses with sample locality priors (LOCPRIOR) identified three distinct, but admixed, genetic clusters that corresponded with the three aggregations. Estimates of contemporary gene flow indicate substantial reciprocal migration among sites consistent with no or low-fidelity natal homing. These results are largely in agreement with previous reports of historic and contemporary gene flow among Lethenteron spp. in other parts of their geographic distribution.
This study presents the first detailed analysis of the mitochondrial DNA diversity of least cisco Coregonus sardinella in Alaska using a 678?bp segment of the control region (D-loop) of the mitochondrial genome. Findings suggest that the history of C. sardinella in Alaska differs from that of other species of Coregonus present in the state and surrounding regions. The examined populations of C. sardinella are genetically diverse across Alaska. Sixty-eight distinct mitochondrial haplotypes were identified among 305 individuals sampled from nine locations. The haplotype minimum spanning network and phylogeny showed a modest level of geographic segregation among haplotypes, suggesting high levels of on-going or recent connectivity among distant populations. Observed FST values and the results of homogeneity and AMOVAs indicate incipient genetic differentiation between aggregations in three broad regional groups. Sites north of the Brooks Range formed one group, sites in the Yukon and Selawik Rivers formed a second group and sites south of the Yukon drainage formed the third group. Overall, the sequence data showed that a large proportion of mtDNA genetic variation in C. sardinella is shared across Alaska, but this variation is not homogeneously distributed across all regions and for all haplotype groups.